West Allis - When the West Allis Police Department held its annual recognition ceremonies Oct. 11 at City Hall, one of the major awards went to a West Milwaukee officer, Eric French, who received the Valor Award for his actions on July 19, 2015.
According to the commendation, French had been scanning the West Allis department's radio frequency when there were three attempted carjackings within about eight minutes. At least one of the three carjackers had a gun.
After the carjackers' Jeep passed the West Milwaukee department's parking lot, "Officer French followed the vehicle as it pulled behind a business on Miller Park Way, strategically placing his squad (car) behind the offenders' vehicle. The driver of the black Jeep began backing up, hitting Officer French's squad and attempting to push it out of the way.
"The Jeep moved Officer French's squad slightly, but the power of the Jeep allowed it to literally drive up onto the hood of the squad." French left the squad car while the Jeep was driven over the car and was pointed at the officer, moving forward.
"As the Jeep continued to drive forward, Officer French continued to fear for his safety and discharged his firearm" and struck the Jeep driver in the arm. The driver and two passengers fled the Jeep, which was still moving. The driver was arrested after he sought treatment at a hospital, and was sentenced to prison. A passenger was also sentenced to prison.
Several employees of the West Allis department were also honored at the program.
Dispatcher Natalie Mueller received Life Saving and Exceptional Service awards. The latter was for an incident on Dec. 16, 2014 that the Police Department did not learn of until March 2015, when a caller sent a letter regarding Mueller's response to a 911 call.
"My husband had cardiac arrest, as I later learned," the woman wrote. "The operator who handled my call was pleasant yet directive and probably helped save his life. I am a nurse and was frozen with concern and anxiety. Her cool and calm directives helped me and our granddaughter until the paramedics arrived."
Mueller's Exceptional Service Award recognized her role in successful apprehension of a man who had stolen thousands of dollars from coin exchange machines at laundromats.
According to Mueller's commendation, "in addition to normal duties she had been extremely vigilant in monitoring the live surveillance feed" of a laundromat and on Jan. 25, 2015 she observed a male who matched the description of the suspect "who did not appear to have any laundry with him. She dispatched officers immediately.
"The suspect had, in fact, pried and entered numerous machines stealing the monies and fled seconds before the first officer arrived." Officers captured the subject after a brief chase and found money, a pry bar and other evidence.
Above and beyond
"For going above and beyond her normal duties, the level of attention devoted to this investigation was an essential factor in the capture of this serial criminal," the department declared.
Brian Resch, the department's lead maintenance custodian, was honored as Employee of the Year. In a letter nominating Resch for the award, Capt. Barry Waddell wrote that "I know of no one employed by the Police Department who is harder working, more conscientious, more dedicated and committed to his job.
"Brian is the one who cleans up all of the crap, (both literally and figuratively) that others leave behind. Our building is 21 years old, but it does not look it, mostly because of Brian."
The Distinguished Service Award was shared by officer Kyle Webster, one of the department's three drug recognition experts, who evaluate drivers impaired by substances other than alcohol; and Cpl. Ryan McNally, who handles police K-9 Diesel.
According to the commendation, "other law enforcement officers and agencies to whom Cpl. McNally provided assistance have commented on how professional, effective and efficient this team is in performing their duties and responsibilities."
The Community Partnership Award was presented to 16 businesses and nonprofit entities. Those were Aurora West Allis Medical Center, Bevsek/Versick Funeral Home, Fast Track Oil Change, Gruber Law Offices, J. H. Medinger Co., Majdecki's Piggly Wiggly, Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals, Motor Castings Co., Pam's Paws, Pet World, Rupena's Fine Foods, Shorty's Shooting Sports, Pawn America, Spirit of 76 Veterinary Clinic, Target and WaterStone Bank.
According to Deputy Chief Chris Botsch the event is normally held during spring, but administrative changes in the department delayed the ceremonies. The department chose to wait until now instead of holding the event in summer.